German AfD-backed leader to stay on temporarily

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Thomas Kemmerich after he resigned on ThursdayImage source, EPA
Image caption,
Thomas Kemmerich resigned after just 24 hours in office

The leader of the German state of Thuringia, who was controversially elected with far-right AfD party help, has said he won't resign immediately.

Hit by a wave of criticism, liberal FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich announced his resignation on Thursday, a day after MPs elected him premier.

But now he says lawyers have advised him to stay on temporarily, to ensure government efficiency in Thuringia.

He has declined a pay package of €93,000 ($102,000; £79,000).

Legally he is entitled to that amount in salary and allowances for just one day in office. But after the figure was widely reported by German media he announced he would stay on his ordinary MP's salary.

An FDP statement said that if by law Mr Kemmerich had to accept the premier's higher salary, he would donate the difference to a charity.

Wednesday's election in the Thuringia parliament sparked outrage across Germany. Demonstrators outside the government building in Erfurt, the regional capital, chanted "together against fascism!"

It is the first time in post-war Germany that a leader has been helped into office by the far right. Mainstream parties officially oppose any deals with the AfD, which has grown to become the main opposition party.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protesters in Erfurt condemned the AfD's influence over the election

Senior MPs in Thuringia's parliament plan to meet on 18 February to decide on a constitutional way to re-run the election for state premier.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called the MPs' vote in the eastern state "unforgivable" and said it must be reversed.

No replacement has been chosen yet for Mr Kemmerich. There are calls for the public to vote in fresh regional elections in Thuringia, but Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) are resisting that option.

The CDU and its coalition partner in the national government, the Social Democrats (SPD), will hold crisis talks at the weekend.

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Why €93,000 for a day's work?

The RND (Editor Network Germany) news group reports that the Thuringia premier gets a base monthly salary of €16,617 gross, plus €766 in allowances.

In addition, as a married man Mr Kemmerich is entitled to a €153 family allowance, making a total of €17,537.

Under Thuringia law, one day in office is treated the same as a month, and Mr Kemmerich is also entitled to a six-month transitional allowance after stepping down.

For the first three months that allowance would be paid in full, and in half for the next three months.

RND reports that his transitional allowance alone would total €75,468.

Ordinary MPs in the Thuringia parliament get a monthly base salary of €5,803. In addition, they get up to €2,782 in monthly allowances, Germany's Die Welt reports.

So the typical income of a Thuringia MP for a day's work, not counting expenses, is €290, and that of a national Bundestag MP is €500.